Donald Trump's transition team sent a memo with 74 questions to the Energy Department this week, among them a request for the names of people who have worked on climate change issues recently. Specifically, it requested a list of all employees and contractors who attended the UN's annual global climate talks during the past five years, Reuters reports. The Energy Department responded Tuesday with a refusal. "We are going to respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department," says a department spokesperson, who added that the Trump team's request "left many in our workforce unsettled." Many media outlets are framing the Trump team's request as an attempt to "purge" the Energy Department of certain workers.
"We will be forthcoming with all publicly available information with the transition team. We will not be providing any individual names to the transition team," the Energy Department spokesperson continued. An official at the Union of Concerned Scientists applauded the Energy Department's response, calling the Trump team's request "absurd and dangerous," and an anonymous Department of Energy employee called the Trump memo "the first draft of an eventual political enemies list." White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said the request for a list of names "could have been an attempt to target civil servants ... who are critical to the success of the federal government's ability to make policy," and a civil service expert tells the Washington Post that even if named employees weren't fired, they could be "marginalized" in other ways. (Trump has made an interesting choice for the head of the Energy Department.)